4 Sep 2007
I realized this morning that the last game I saw that the Yankees actuallly won was August 19th. Part of that was because I was on a trip, but another part of that is beacause the Yankees have gone 6-8 over their last 14 and that includes the sweep of Boston.
The main problem as Joel Sherman alludes to today with his clever headline of “Wang and Pettitte and Then Forget It” is that the starting pitching isn’t very good. Actually, most of the pitching isn’t very good. The Yankees have gone 16-12 over the last month and they have done that with a team ERA of 5.41. So, as the offense cools, the pitching simply isn’t there to pick things up.
To their credit, the Yankees have tried to address this. Joba is now a fixture in the bullpen and Kennedy will make another start this week. That certainly helps, but with Roger Clemens missing at lest a start that means Mike Mussina will rejoin the rotation (8.33 ERA over the last month) . Sean Henn (17.27) is back in the minors, but the Yankees have to rely on Phil Hughes (5.53) every fifth day. Kyle Farnsworth has turned his year around (2.08) but Edwar Ramirez (5.23) hasn’t provided a spark since he has surrendered four home runs in ten innings.
At this point, with the wild card really a dead heat (Seattle is tied with New York in the loss column) there is nothing to lose by trying every asset they have. Jose Veras is back in the bigs and should be tried out in singificant relief roles. Baseball allows teams to play the last 25 games or so with expanded rosters and the Yankees should take advantage of that. Other than Andrew Brackman, every other pitcher on the 40-man roster has pitched for the Yankees this year or last. Seven of them are still in the minors and they should all be recalled. Get them up here and send see if quantity can replace quality. Who knows, maybe Chase Wright can dazzle out of the bullpen for an inning here or there. Maybe Mike Mussina would be effective if he knew he was only going to pitch three innings each time out. What about using Clippard/DeSalvo/Igawa and Karstens two innings each in a game? I know it is radical and not traiditional baseball, but the Yankees have to try something else.
It is sad that Andy Phillips is going to miss the rest of the season. By all accounts, he is a great guy and he has had way more than his share of bad luck. But, it will allow the Yankees the rectify a big hole in their lineup. Phillips hit .292/.338/.373 which just doesn’t cut it. I am all for having Giambi play there more because while the defense is weakened at first, it is strengthened if the Yankees put Damon in left and Matsui at DH. (Note for 2008, Damon is a pretty good left fielder so far). Since Giambi at first every day won’t hold up for the rest of the year, how about a platoon of Duncan and Betemit at first?
Duncan has certainly earned some playing time and his .800 slugging percentage against LHP speaks for itself. Betemit has hit a big slump, but I think that may be more a function of adjusting to New York and his role here. In his career he has hit .267/.348/.467 against RHP, why not give it a whirl?